Carmelo Anthony: Observations from Melo’s intriguing exit interview

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 21: Carmelo Anthony
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 21: Carmelo Anthony /

With exit interviews occurring Saturday April 29, Carmelo Anthony offered some intriguing thoughts.

The roller coaster known as the 2017-18 OKC Thunder season came to a close on Friday night. Exit interviews began on Saturday afternoon. Carmelo Anthony’s was amusing, to say the least.

Carmelo Anthony met with the media on Saturday afternoon to conduct an annual exit interview. Melo offered insight into the season while also raising a few eyebrows with some intriguing quotes. Let’s begin to dissect Melo’s comments.

Carmelo Anthony was asked what his biggest challenge was this season:

"ANTHONY: I think just being — I don’t want to say stripped, but I think just challenging me to be a different type of player, a different caliber player, a guy who for 14 seasons has been a certain type of player and to kind of be challenged and tested and say, okay, we need you to be this player, this type of player, this caliber of player, very different than what I was used to before in the past. I think for me, that was the most challenging part of it.But also being willing to accept that, understanding the situation and the circumstances that I was handed to."

This quote in particular really stands out. From the outside looking in it appears the Thunder acquire players, slotting them into roles that do not necessarily fit. Melo confirmed that is at least what they did with him.

Putting players in position to succeed while still having order is winning half the battle right there.

What role Billy Donovan played in the his transition to the Thunder

"Well, I think it wasn’t so much of making the transition from New York to Oklahoma City, it was more so making the transition of playing a certain way for 14 seasons and then switching to a completely, totally different style of player in this one season.And it was more so me going to Billy and asking him what did you need from me in order for this team to be successful. And like I said, all of that happened on the fly. I had to learn that on the fly. It wasn’t planned. Maybe Billy had a plan of how he wanted to go into training camp, and then you had another component of me being traded in the 24th, 25th hour, so now it was like, oh, how are we going to implement this component into what I already have going on. There’s a lot of things that went into play this season. -Anthony"

Melo initiating the conversation with Donovan about how he was going to be used is striking. Players should not feel the need to ask their head coach how are they going to be used. Unless of course, this is a free agency meeting.

If Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t have had this discussion with Donovan, would Billy D have initiated the conversation himself? Or would he have left Melo to figure his role out on his own. Either way, this feeds the debate about whether or not Donovan is afraid of his players.

How was his role in OKC different? How can he excel in his current role?

"Yeah, I think the player that they wanted me to be and needed me to be was for the sake of this season, should I say, because it was just so — like I said, everything was just thrown together, and it wasn’t anything that was planned out. It wasn’t no strategy to me being here, me being a part of the actual system and what type of player and things like that.As far as being effective as that type of player, I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player. I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role, but I think I bring a little bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgeable and what I still can do as a basketball player."

When watching OKC on offense and far less frequently on defense it appears they’re running around hoping for the best. For a team that relies so heavily on analytics, it seems very strange OKC did not use their analytics to format a strategy. Once again Carmelo Anthony confirmed what can be observed by simply watching the team play.

All the best teams in all walks of sports usually win based on a combination of factors. Talent and strategy are very big factors. The Thunder had the talent part covered this year, yet they lacked something more pivotal strategy.

The Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors success this season could be tied directly back to their excellent strategy. The Warriors and Rockets have the best of both worlds utilizing talent and strategy.

While the Celtics possess talent they have dealt with a lot of injuries depleting their talent. Making coach Brad Steven strategy even more vital. Last but not the least the Raptors although they possess talent as well. Their talent is more well-rounded and their revamped culture and strategy set them apart in the East.

How can OKC improve next season? (Melo gave a bit of a peculiar answer):

"More from Thunderous IntentionsStealing one player from every Southwest Division team for the OKC ThunderShould the OKC Thunder chase after a disgruntled hometown hero?3 OKC Thunder players who can step up in Aleksej Pokusevski’s absenceAleksej Pokusevski sidelined approximately 6 weeks with ankle injuryDamian Lillard does not fit with the OKC ThunderI think if we all come back, I think this season would be — we would look at this season and we would say this was like, I don’t know, preseason or training camp, in what we would be next season, if we all came back, as far as having a year under our belt, being able to get settled. That transition period would be over with, that learning curve. We would have a lot of information that we can take from this season, and we can build on that. But like I said, that comes down to kind of the evaluation period at the end of the season."

The way this quote is viewed depends on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. This scribe resides in the middle so you could join me as a realist. It’s easy to see both sides if you look closely.

It seems like a stretch to say they needed an entire season under their belt to learn to play together. Yet at the same time, it’s obvious they were on their own in working through the issues. Coupled with their opening night starting lineup being limited to 31 games.

Whichever side you reside on you are not going to get an argument out of me on this one.

Finally Carmelo Anthony was asked once again about coming off the bench

"Yeah, I’m not sacrificing no bench role, so you can — that’s out of the question.I think everybody knows that I’ve sacrificed kind of damned near everything, family, moving here by myself, sacrificed my game for the sake of the team, and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for this situation to work out. So it’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball."

Carmelo’s answer here is not at all surprising given his stance on coming off the bench has been consistent since media day. That said he put his coaches in an unfair position because he is trying to force their hand.

Yet at the same time, we always clamor for honesty from professional athletes and Melo has shown he has no filter and is unafraid to speak his mind. For that, he deserves a tip of the cap.

That’s all from me for now Thunder Nation. Stay tuned for more player recaps as they are posted.

Note: You can view Melo’s exit full interview above.